A pro-Trump organizer who helped plan the January 6 “March to Save America” rally that led to a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is now planning a “MAGA sellout” bus tour targeting Republicans who did not side with former President Donald Trump’s efforts to steal the election.
Dustin Stockton and his fiancé, Jennifer Lynn Lawrence, both former Breitbart bloggers, were recently featured as major players in an extensive New York Times article about how Trump’s shameless string of lies and conspiracy theories percolated through a series of rallies and other events put on by his supporters in the period between the election and January 6. (The two had also been involved in other pro-Trump organizing efforts before.)
Among Stockton and Lawrence’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election was a “March for Trump” bus tour, which made stops in more than 20 cities starting in late November and continuing through January. The tour, made possible by Stockton and Lawrence in collaboration with the group 'Women for America First’ and its leaders Amy and Kylie Jane Kremer, crisscrossed the country spreading lies about the results of the election using violent and revolutionary language. BuzzFeed News reports Stockton “evoked images of revenge and violence” in his remarks on the tour, “advised people to arm themselves” and said if Congress “allow[s] the election to get stolen” the tactics of pro-Trump activists will get “a lot, lot uglier and a lot, lot worse. And I don’t think any of us want to go there.”
The article covered several other disturbing calls to violence and conspiracy theories promulgated by participants in the bus tour. For example, a North Carolina county commissioner told a crowd at one event, “We’d solve every problem in this country if on the 4th of July every conservative went and shot one liberal.” The tour culminated in the “March to Save America” rally in Washington, D.C., on January 6, with Trump himself spreading election conspiracy theories before a crowd of his supporters stormed the Capitol.
Now Stockton and Lawrence are using social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and a newsletter hosted on Substack, to plan a follow-up “MAGA Sellout” bus tour from February to May. A website for the tour lists the districts of the Republican members of Congress who voted for Trump’s second impeachment, plus Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who “betrayed President Trump” following January 6.
In his newsletter, Tyrant’s Curse (“the home of free patriots who will never be ruled by globalists”), Stockton promoted his Twitter thread announcing the tour, adding, “In the next few months we will begin the process of recruiting/vetting candidates to primary these sellouts.” He followed up with a series of posts listing the tour’s 12 targets, including Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), David Valadao (R-CA), and Dan Newhouse R-WA) -- all Republicans who voted for Trump’s second impeachment.
In a Facebook live video on January 26, Stockton explained his plans to organize “with a bunch of the organizers and influencers who were involved in that first tour” to launch a follow-up effort. He also said he plans to oversee “local branches everywhere” to be “the hubs from which we organize from and take our country back.”
In a different Facebook live video on January 31, Stockton floated the idea of supporting a candidate for retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat, suggesting Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano and saying, “That guy is rock solid. I love his fireside chats, I love his positions.” Mastriano participated in the January 6 insurrection and pushed violent rhetoric during an appearance on a YouTube show dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory in December.
In his Substack newsletter, Stockton identified the Facebook page for Tyrant’s Curse, which only has a few hundred followers, as an “organizing channel” for the “MAGA Sellout” tour. He also promoted his presence on the social media platform Gab, an alternative to Twitter that has been described as a “haven for white supremacists.” Stockton has over 55,000 followers on his personal Facebook page, which he has also used to promote the new event. Lawrence has 24,000 followers on Facebook and has been promoting the tour there as well. She recently reached out to a Wyoming candidate running against Liz Cheney via Twitter, and stated the “MAGA sellout tour” will visit the state in February.
That these activists, who have a history of promoting violence, are able to organize a follow-up bus tour on Twitter, Substack, and Facebook -- the very same platform where a violent insurrection was planned less than a month ago -- shows that these social media companies have a long way to go in stopping the spread of extremism on their platforms.